UN asks nations to adopt new food security plan

January 18, 2009

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UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17: UN officials proposed a new strategy on Friday for feeding the world’s poorest, pushing improved nutrition and school feeding programmes, better access for small farmers to markets, and greater use of tax breaks and biofuels.

Dr David Nabarro, head of the UN’s task force on global food security, said the eight-point ‘framework’ would be the centrepiece of a high-level Madrid conference later this month chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.

Nabarro emphasised that the new strategies laid out in the proposed framework, which also includes much more direct investment in poor nations’ agriculture and using strategic grain reserves to stabilize prices, will serve as the starting point to achieve fairer trade and help farmers in poor countries make a decent living.

“It links together our thinking and action on nutrition, social protection, food security, agriculture, markets and trade. These are all areas in which there are quite major problems in the world today,” said Nabarro, an assistant secretary-general who also has served as coordinator of the UN’s global fight against bird flu. But with food prices still high, the global financial crisis making it more difficult for nations to help out and climate change also taking a toll on food production, the number of hungry people in the world rose to 963 million last year, up from 923 million a year earlier, according to Nabarro and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Already, the UN’s World Food Programm says it will need $5.2 billion in 2009 to feed 100 million of the world’s hungriest people. About two-thirds of the undernourished live in India, China, Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia, the FAO says.—AP